Real Madrid thrash Al Hilal to secure fifth Club World Cup title
RABAT: Real Madrid won the Club World Cup for a record extending fifth time after beating Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal 5-3 in the final on Saturday, with doubles from Federico Valverde and Vinicius Jr and a goal by Karim Benzema.
It was a largely one-sided contest at the Prince Moulay Abdallah stadium, with Real never looking likely to cede control despite allowing their opponents to score three times, with Luciano Vietto also netting twice.
The Moroccan fans who created a noisy atmosphere enjoyed a flurry of goals that started early, with the European Champions opening the scoring in the 13th minute.
Valverde linked up with Benzema, who put the ball on a plate for Vinicius ghosting in behind the defence to slot in from close range.
Valverde extended Real’s lead five minutes later on the rebound but Al Hilal hit back with a goal from Moussa Marega on the counter-attack.
Real controlled the tempo and had almost 70% possession, but they were exposed several times in defence, with Marega and Vietto creating trouble one-on-one against Antonio Rudiger and Eduardo Camavinga, who was once again playing as an improvised left back.
Vinicius took centre stage after the break, with the Brazilian showing off his skills against the beleaguered Al Hilal defence, with the crowd on their feet every time the jet-heeled Brazilian ran down the left channel.
He set up Benzema for Real’s third with a brilliant cross with the outside of his boot in the 54th minute, before Valverde extended their lead from close-range.
Vietto reduced the deficit for Al Hilal from another counter five minutes later but any hopes of a comeback were swiftly dashed as Vinicius added another for Real in the 69th with a tidy finish after playing the ball through a defender’s legs.
Vietto scored his second of the night 10 minutes later to round off a high-scoring encounter that delighted the Moroccan fans.
Having also won three Intercontinental Cup trophies, a predecessor to the Club World Cup that pitched the European and South American champions against each other, Real have a combined total of eight global titles.
The next most successful sides are AC Milan and Bayern Munich with four titles each in the two competitions.
“We are very happy. For the eighth time Real Madrid is World Champion,” manager Carlo Ancelotti told Telecinco.
“We made a good game, with a lot of quality up front. Vinicius, Benzema, Valverde… they have done very well.
“They showed skills and quality. It was great.”
Published in Dawn, February 13th, 2023